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Interview with Jules Vincent, co-writer and producer of Alive
By James Whittington, Thursday 4th October 2018
Jules Vincent

Grimmfest 2018 is well underway and delivering some memorable movie moments, and one of the best is showing on Sunday, Alive. This cracking film sees the return of Grimmfest favourite Rob Grant as director and has been co-written and co-produced by Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent. Here Jules tells all about this brilliant piece.

HC: Where did the idea for Alive come from?

JV: We'd talked about writing a horror screenplay for a number of years before we finally came up with the right idea. We're both big fans of classic horror and we love the works of Hitchcock, Carpenter, Friedkin, and Cronenberg so in a way we had a very specific style and feel in mind before we even had the story. And then, in sort of a crazy lightning bolt moment, during a brainstorming session on horror ideas, a commercial from the NFL ran on the TV in the background and they were using a classic horror tale to advertise their product and players. We kinda said, wait a minute, what if this and then this and then this happened and voila! From that 30 second spot our whole idea unravelled into a full length script. Of course it took a lot longer than thirty seconds to write it.

HC: Did you take a long time completing it and did you write with a cast in mind?

JV: The first draft of Alive probably took about six to eight weeks to complete. But that was just the first draft. By the time we got to the actual shooting script we were probably on draft ten or twelve, maybe even fifteen. We didn't write with any specific cast in mind but we did write with specific character voices in mind. When it came to the casting process we were very fortunate that our casting directors - Lauren and Jordan Bass - heard and understood those voices when they read it and managed to deliver casting choices to us that could accomplish these characters.

HC: Did the budget restrict your concept at all?

JV: Yes but we'd like to think not in a bad way. We knew we couldn't write big budget horror because we weren't going to get a big budget for production so it forced us to stay between the guard rails. It forces you to come up with a whole bunch of alternative ideas to what might be the easy and, often times, predictable solutions to your story.

HC: How did director Rob Grant get involved with the project?

JV: We had been turned on to 775 Media as a possible production partner through some connections of ours in Toronto and when we reached out to them about they were very receptive to the project. They had just finished working with Rob on Fake Blood and they could not have been happier with his work so they gave us a stirring recommendation of him as our possible director. We took a look at his earlier work and they shared with us an early cut of Fake Blood and we pretty much knew right away that he was our guy. Then we got on the phone with him and he sealed the deal when he shared with us his vision for the film. We loved the ideas he brought to the script, and how he wanted the look and feel of the project to be and it was a no brainer.

HC: Were you on set during the shoot?

JV: As much as we could be, yes. Since we were pulling double duty as producers as well we were forced off set for various meetings and calls but we tried to stay abreast of the shoot as much as possible and then watched to dallies to catch up on anything we may have missed as well.

HC: Has it been difficult to keep the ending a secret?

JV: So far everyone has been very good about not giving up any spoilers. Honestly the hardest thing is when people ask us "what's it about" and then we've got to try to summarize the story in the most interesting way possible without giving away the big twist.

HC: Do you get nervous when your work is shown at the film festival?

JV: We try not to. We look at it like all the time that's been put into it there's not anything else we can do besides hope the audience responds to the work.

HC: Who inspires you as a creative person?

JV: We've got too many favourites to list just one but off the top of our head - William Friedkin, Walter Hill (we didn't name any of our characters in Alive as a nod to his film The Driver), Brian De Palma, Jules Dassin, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, John Huston - to name just a few.

HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?

JV: Oddly enough we're working on something that takes place in the UK. It's not genre at all, it's actually in a pretty opposite direction, it's the mostly true story of Leighton Rees, the first ever world's professional darts champion out of Pontypridd, Wales. He's the Rocky of darts, a long shot in the sport and in life who rose to the height of his profession for that brief moment while on the biggest stage. It's called Mister One Hundred because that's what the late, great Sid Waddell called him, due to his ability to so consistently land 100s on the dart board and also because of this one hundred to one long shot at the championship.

HC: Jules Vincent, thank you very much.


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